More Than Just Talking Footy and Sh!t, Coming to Hobart
by Stephanie Williams
A newcomer to northern Tassie has brought with him a national men’s charity that gets men together to chat and make friendships. They’re now expanding to Hobart.
Ben Hughes co-founded The Men’s Table on the mainland in 2011 and has seen it grow swiftly in the intervening years. Now he’s looking to set up a Table or two in southern Tasmania. Each month, the same dozen men meet at the same place at the same time to chat – over time they learn to trust each other and using a set of guidelines share the highs and lows of their lives.
Here’s Ben’s story:
“Things weren’t going well. I had experienced a destructive divorce, I was worried about my son and self employment was quickly going down the toilet. However, the thing that really prompted me to start The Men’s Table was the fact that I found I had no close male friends to talk to. There was nobody to share what was going on for me; sitting on the couch by myself was not going well! I talked to a couple of men who I knew about this and they said ‘Mate, we know how you feel, we feel the same way.’ The seed was planted and we started the first Table.
In 2019 one of the men at the Table called me and said ‘We need to do more of this and get men into communities’. David Pointon is now my co-founder and in early 2019 we began starting more Tables.
My partner and I moved to lovely Launnie in June 2021 when a big corporate decided to make her redundant; what a cloud with a silver lining! We love living here and have learned to only drink Boags! Ha ha, no really, we’re making the most of the fantastic wine in Tassie. We now have 4 Tables in Launceston and 1 in George Town. Hobart, Scottsdale and Burnie are next on the list.
By the end of May this year we had started 62 Tables, it’s been huge! We have already been commissioned twice by The National Mental Health Commission and our research can be downloaded from our website. The biggest thing we’ve found is that men just need a place to be heard about what is really going on for them, and a sense of community, a group of men who don’t just talk about the superficial stuff.
There’s no charge to become a member, the only cost is the price of a meal and a beer/wine or two, no more than two. We have a wide range of men who come and sit at Tables, Nationally our youngest member is 19 and the oldest 93. There is a wide range of backgrounds which makes great places to learn about other men. Women are huge supporters of what we do, they often see a man in their life who could do with a group of men around him. We urge women to gently nudge men they care about towards The Men’s Table. A statistic that will help that is that in our latest survey of men at Tables 81% of men said that they now had a better relationship with their partner/spouse. Now there is an incentive!
To start this in Hobart we’re really looking for men who would like to sit in a community of good men, men who will not judge, who will listen and understand the importance of being in a community with like minded men. Some men will say to themselves, ‘well there is nothing wrong with me, I don’t need that.’ The fact is the Table is a place to support other men and be supported if you need it; you just never know what is around the corner and when you will need a group of supportive men. The Men’s Table is about community, it is about really listening and if needs be unburdening in a safe environment to a group of men like you.
If you would like to get involved please have a look at our website www.themenstable.org and watch a couple of the videos. Then contact me at email@example.com or call on 0424 993 366.”